Full review of the Orangerie Concert Schonbrunn, a classical music, opera and dance show within the grounds of Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna
His eyes twinkled as he cheekily flirted, leaning forward knowingly one moment, then striding confidently amongst the excited crowd the next.
His jawline was strong, aristocratic. His hairline was peak Hugh-Grant-tousled-floppy charm, with centre part class. And oh – that voice.
His magnetism drew me in, the lively spring to his step had me waiting with bated breath for his next utterance…I was getting swept away….
….until the thunderous applause of 300 other people surrounding us proved I was not alone in my swooning and momentary stage lust! And let’s face it, lust was the absolute last thing we’d expected when attending a classical music concert in the Habsburgs Summer Palace of Schönbrunn.
Intrigued? Read on to find out what caused all this innapropriate lust at the Orangerie Concert Schönbrunn!
Vienna’s Concert Tradition
It’s hard to avoid attending a classical music concert in Vienna – across the city, every night of the week there are hundreds of people attending concerts with a mix of opera, ballet and classical music. The tradition stretches from the 1800’s and into the 19th Century, when Vienna was the hub of culture and classical music.
The Imperial court of the Habsburgs enjoyed and supported regular performances from famous classical artists of the day – including a young Mozart and Josef Haydn – resulting in a boom of industry around classical music halls, instruments and supplies. From the 19th Century onwards, Vienna has been a renown home for composers, musicians and performers, with statues dotted throughout the city to commemorate their place in Vienna’s history.
Now days in Vienna, you can barely walk the city centre without tripping over costumed Mozarts slinging tickets to shows in ornate concert Halls. The Kursalon, Musikverein, Palais Auersperg and many more host performance evenings for tourists and locals every evening. Experiencing a show is a quintessential Viennese experience – one I had not yet checked off my 50 things to Do in Vienna list.
So, on kind invitation from the Orangerie Schonbrunn concert hall, Stefan and I busted out our fancy wear and headed to the concert to see this historic tradition for ourselves.
The Orangerie Schonbrunn
First, lets talk about the venue and gardens before we get to the main event.
The Orangerie is – despite the name that implies a room full of fruit – a lovely baroque salon and event hall, where suited waiters greet your arrival and glinting chandeliers light up the crowds gathered on the parquetry floorboards. First built in the 1700’s and said to be the worlds second largest orangerie (with Versailles being the biggest, naturally!) the venue still holds its imperial lustre and charm.
The Orangerie gardens are well worth arriving early for, to enjoy a stroll around before the show. We’ve visited Schonbrunn Palace grounds countless times, but never managed to get behind the fenced off area of the orangerie, so it was worth the wait.
The pebbles crunch lightly beneath your feet and the atmosphere is all hushed elegance and richly flowering blooms, where even the fountains are dignified.
Inside, the Orangerie is pure Imperial style, red velvet chairs, gilded stucco on clean white walls and plenty of champagne flutes and delicate details to elevate your night.
I’ll be honest, my expectations were pretty mediocre for the show itself. I thought it would be a bit kitschy, tourist cheesiness, with just the ‘Vienna Classic Tracks’ wheeled out for an endless stream of tourists.
I’d been a tour guide in Vienna, and thought I knew the drill; fancy outfit, expensive ticket, show running like clockwork with no real heart or sparks and we all end up clapping along half-heartedly to ‘The Blue Danube’ 90 minutes after we first arrived.
Basically I thought the concert was going to be a bit lame.
I was so wrong!
Yes, the crowd was mostly group tours coming into the venue and following umbrella-wielding guides en masse *shudder*.
But once the show started that didn’t matter – the performers were top notch and fully committed to a lively, nuanced and exciting classical concert.
I’m not an opera or classical music aficionado (shocker I know) and yet I found myself having fun watching these guys absolutely nail their performances. They fed off the crowds pure energy and enthusiasm and ran through the programme with high energy and joy.
Which is where Mr Flirty-Mc-Perfect-Hair-and-Cheekbones came into centre stage. The highlights of the show were, by far, the flirtatious duets and heartfelt solos of Mr Thomas Weinhappel and Ms Elisabeth Pratscher that returned throughout the show.
They were emotional, lively and Stefan and I both got the giggles enjoying just how utterly Viennese Thomas Weinhappel was!
The show is split into two halves of 45 minutes each, which is just about perfect timing, enough to feel engrossing but not so long that you get twitchy between songs to go to the loo.
There was an even mix of orchestra pieces, for the first half they played pieces by Strauss, and the second half, Mozart. Even an Opera and classical music noob like me could recognise some of the most famous pieces like the ‘Fledermaus’ and the ‘Donauwalzer’.
The energy of the performers made the concert fly by. The dancers are light and impressive, the orchestra conductor friendly and generous to the audience, directing us when to clap along, and as you can probably tell by now, the operetta singers were my favourite, both his ‘n hers duets were fun, flirty and technically impressive for the vocal range and emotion.
So, I guess I like classical concerts now? Maybe only when the main characters are flirty and hilarious!
To attend a classical music concert in Vienna, no matter how long you have lived in the city, is something special. Stefan and I made a midweek date night out of it, and in the warm, waning days of summer it was something really special to enjoy together.
Sometimes its easy to forget – even though we cycle past the palace every day! – that we live in such a historic and culturally rich city. And while I love my hipster brunch spots, indie local stores and the thriving modern creative scene of Vienna, taking a night out to enjoy the traditional entertainment that Vienna has been offerring for centuries was exciting.
Somehow I’d classified opera and orchestras as too highbrow or intellectual or intense for us to enjoy on an everyday basis, but when you get right down to it, they were the olden days soap operas.
Love, betrayal, flirtation, drama and emotion, all performed right before your eyes. Sharing it with a friend or someone you love is the ideal way to get out of the house, off your phone for a few hours and feel pretty damn fancy in the process.
We enjoyed arriving early to stroll the garden paths, and have a pre – show champagne in the foyer to lap up the atmosphere and excitement of the performance.
At interval, we had pre arranged another round of drinks that were waiting for us on our own VIP table, tres chic. Despite having to dodge a few misplaced selfie sticks, the venue felt timeless and if you closed your eyes for a moment, you could imagine Mozart playing his first show here all those years ago.
In short – we had such a fun time, which was the last thing I expected at a classical music concert!
It will be a lasting memory of just how lucky we are to live in Vienna and a good reminder that you should never let your perceptions hold you back from trying something out of the ordinary, especially if they are in your own backyard.
Besides, if we never tried, we never would have fallen in stage-lust with Mr Flirty-Mc-Dreamnboat with the perfect jawline…..
The Important Details
- Where: Orangerie Schonbrunn Palace, Schönbrunner Schlossstraße 47, 1130 Wien
- When: Daily. Concert starts at 8:30pm, but definitely get there earlier to get your tickets checked, walk the venue and lap up the atmosphere
- How to Get There: The u4 station Schonbrunn is the best public transport connection
- Price: Tickets range from €45pp for the C section at the back of the hall, €65pp for section B in the middle, €75pp for section A in the front section of the hall, and if you want to go all out in the first two rows, the VIP section is €105 per person and includes a glass of prosecco
- Dress Code: You don’t have to dress up to attend, plenty of people were there in their jeans and polo shirts, or casual dresses. But, if you want to make a night out of it, this is the venue to wear a nice suit, dress and heels if you want!
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